The World Ends With You is a Nintendo DS game developed by Jupiter and Square Enix, published by Square Enix ( Ubisoft in Australia). The game was well-received upon its release, garnering great critical reception for its music, graphics, unique gameplay, style, and setting. The World Ends With You was a bestseller in both Japan and North America for several weeks after release. The game was released in Japan on July 26, 2007, in North America on April 22, 2008, and in Europe on April 18, 2008.
The World Ends With You makes extensive use of the stylus and dual screens, splitting the action-based gameplay between the two. In combat, players fight the Noise, which exist simultaneously on both screens, and share health between the two. Neku, the main character, fights on the lower screen and is controlled by the stylus; the player uses different stylus motions to execute attacks called Psychs (inflicting damage, inflicting status effects, or restoring health). Neku’s partner fights on the upper screen and is controlled by the d-pad or face buttons; partner Psychs are performed by navigating a combo map, attacking to the right or left.
Partner characters also develop extra combat skills, such as jumping or dodging, which can enhance their offensive and defensive abilities. Each partner character’s combo map also contains a unique minigame, allowing the player to earn Fusion Stars by choosing the correct combos in the correct sequence. With enough Stars, Neku and his partner can perform a devastating Fusion attack. Unlike Neku, partner movement is not directly controlled by the player. Battles also feature a “light puck” that is transferred between players upon the successful completion of a combo, granting the current holder a damage bonus. As in most role-playing games, The World Ends With You rewards the player with experience points at the conclusion of each successful battle; with enough experience points, Neku will level up, gaining stat boosts.
Past the fast-paced combat and basic leveling system, The World Ends With You features a collection system based around Pins. Pins are items obtained as loot drops, received through story progression, or bought in shops. Pins serve primarily as Neku’s weapons. Neku can only execute Psychs granted by his equipped Pins. Some Pins do not grant Psychs, but have other functions (such as boosting the abilities of other equipped Pins). Pin abilities are quantified by their stats, which can include brand (which decide trend bonuses) offensive power, limit (the number of uses or temporal duration of use before rebooting), boot time (initial cooldown), and reboot time (cooldown). Like Neku gains experience points, Pins gain pin points (PP) through use in battle and can be leveled-up to boost their stats; some can evolve, achieving more radical growth bonuses in the process. Between three and six Pins can be equipped at a given time. The game features over 300 unique Pins and over 60 Psychs, allowing for very wide customization options.
The World Ends With You includes an equipment system, with which the player can equip clothing (called Threads) to Neku and his partner. Threads primarily affect characters’ stats, but also feature special abilities (ranging from more stat boosts to to alterations in the partner’s combo map). Each Thread’s ability must be discovered by winning favor from shopkeepers around Shibuya; favor is earned by spending money at the shopkeepers’ stores. Each shopkeeper has a specific set of Threads about which he or she can tell Neku. Only one Thread of each type (hat, shirt, pants, etc.) and only four overall can be equipped simultaneously. Also, characters cannot equip Threads if their Bravery stat is lower than the Thread’s Required Bravery stat. Bravery grows through similar means to other stats.
Though HP regenerates after each fight, food is still a feature in The World Ends With You. Food can be bought at restaurants and serves two purposes. When food is consumed, it immediately grants a temporary boost in the characters’ sync rate (sync rate determines the ease with which the characters can pass the light puck). However, every food item must be fully digested before the consumer reaps its true benefit. Food digestion is measured in units called bytes; one byte passes with each successful battle, and the post-digestion effect (generally a permanent stat boost) is granted once all bytes are gone. No food can be consumed by a character while he or she has undigested bytes.
Mingle Mode is a meta-feature with which players can connect wirelessly to other DS owners, earning rewards such as bonus PP or character stats. In addition, Neku’s equipped Pins will receive PP every time the game is turned on, the quantity of the PP determined by the duration of elapsed time since the last recorded play session.
The game takes place over the period of three weeks, following the quest of Neku Sakuraba, an introverted Japanese teenager, to win the Reapers’ Game. The first week begins as Neku wakes up in Shibuya’s scramble crossing. He is initially confused, with no recollection as to how he got there and vexation as to why he cannot be seen. He also finds an odd pin on his person, which has granted him the ability to “scan” the thoughts of other people. Soon, he meets Shiki Misaki, who excitedly persuades him to “forge a pact” with her.
Though Neku resents her happy-go-lucky attitude, she teaches him the nature of the Game. Neku is horrified to learn that he must remain her partner for seven days, he will die if he abandons her. On the second day, Neku and Shiki meet another Player pair: a similarly-aged boy named Beat and a younger girl named Rhyme. Later, a Harrier named Uzuki Yashiro orders Neku to erase Shiki, but the enigmatic Sanae Hanekoma steps in at the last second, reminding Uzuki of this action’s illegality. Neku and Shiki converse with Hanekoma, who displays considerable knowledge of the Game, though he appears to be neither a Player nor a Reaper.
On the fourth day, Rhyme is erased by an attacking Noise. Though Beat has only seven minutes to live after the erasure of his partner, Hanekoma appears and takes him to a safe haven as Neku and Shiki fight the
Noise. On the fifth day, Neku and Shiki meet Yodai Higashizawa, the Game Master, who reveals the deep jealousy within Shiki. Neku learns more of Shiki’s past. On the sixth day, the mission requires that Neku and Shiki spread the popularity of a red pin, similar in pattern to the Player Pin, across Shibuya. On the seventh day, Neku and Shiki race to defeat Higashizawa after Beat inexplicably runs off from Hanekoma. They do so, completing the mission and winning the Game. Neku, Shiki, and Beat (the only surviving Players) meet with Megumi Kitaniji, the Conductor.
According to him, the Composer has mandated that only one Player will be reincarnated, based on the Composer’s judgment. To the shock of Neku and Shiki, Beat requests to become a Reaper. Possibly even more shocking is that Shiki is chosen over Neku for reincarnation; Neku elects to replay the Game, rather than joining Beat as a Reaper. Kitaniji returns his previous entry fee (his memories), but to Neku’s horror, takes Shiki’s life as his new entry fee.
Neku reawakens in the scramble crossing and resolves to win the game again, for both his and Shiki’s sakes. He is somehow forced into a pact by a boy named Joshua Kiryu, whose intelligence and arrogance annoy Neku. Oddly, Neku is able to scan him; he witnesses a segment of Joshua’s memories, which seem to include the circumstances surrounding Neku’s death. Neku and Joshua also meet Sho Minamimoto, the math-obsessed new Game Master. On the second day, Neku scans Joshua again, raising suspicions that Joshua is, in fact, his murderer. Meanwhile, Kitaniji orders Beat to erase Neku. On the third day, Minamimoto fails to assign a mission. Neku and Joshua visit Hanekoma’s cafe, WildKat. Hanekoma outfits Joshua’s phone with a tracking device; he also tells Neku about Joshua, who was apparently able to see the UG in life. Joshua refuses to clearly define the tracker’s target; while searching for it, Neku and Joshua are nearly erased by Beat.
On the fourth day (no mission again), the pair find Minamimoto engaged in somewhat suspicious activity. Beat attacks, but relents again, dropping Rhyme’s pendant as he leaves. Neku scans Joshua once again; now sure that he was killed by
Joshua, Neku decides to bide his time, as he needs Joshua to win the Game. Meanwhile, Kariya and Uzuki find a Taboo Noise refinery sigil drawn by Minamimoto; his actions are strictly forbidden, and they report their findings to their superiors. On the fifth day, Hanekoma fixes Joshua’s apparently broken tracker. Beat attacks for a third time, but backs off when Neku returns Rhyme’s pendant. Neku and Joshua follow the tracker’s signal to an impassable wall, and Joshua finally tells Neku of his target: the Composer. He hopes to find and erase the Composer, taking his position.
As they retreat fromt the wall, they are attacked by a Taboo Noise (a Noise that does not discriminate between Player and Reaper, and that will attack unprovoked); close to death, Joshua erases it with incredible power. Observing, Kariya concludes that Joshua is still alive, and therefore an illegal Player. On the seventh day, the pair finds Minamimoto, hoping to defeat him and win the Game. Neku remembers more of his death, leading him now to believe that Minamimoto is his true killer; the three fight. In his last seconds of life, Minamimoto erases Joshua; Neku survives as the only winner. Because Joshua was alive, Kitaniji rules Neku’s victory void. However, in thanks for defeating the rebellious Minamimoto (who was trying to find and supplant the Composer), the Composer allows Neku to reenter again.
Neku reawakens. He is informed by the Reapers that he is the only Player in this Game. In addition to Shiki’s life, still in limbo, the lives of all other Players were taken as his entry fee. Sympathizing with his plight, Beat defects from the Reapers and becomes Neku’s new partner. Neku learns that Beat, like Joshua, wants to kill the Composer. On the second day, Kitaniji announces an Emergency Call in the wake of Beat’s betrayal; this protocol calls for direct Reaper hostility toward Players, as well as the use of special O-pins (the same pins promoted by Neku and Shiki in the first Game).
The third week again begins the same way. For the third week, Neku awakes in the scramble crossing. He quickly realizes that he is the only Player this game, as the other Players are decided to be his entry fee. Beat becomes a Player again (his only motivation for becoming a Reaper was to try and bring back Rhyme). The Game Master for the final week is Mitsuki Konishi, who was previously Kitaniji’s assistant. Somebody has also been creating Taboo Noise, and it is revealed to be a resurrected Sho Minamimoto. When Neku and Beat finally make it to the Composer’s room (with Shiki in tow), Joshua runs in, revealing himself to be the Composer. He says that all Games are actually a test about whether or not humanity should be allowed to continue to exist. Joshua decides, however, to let Shibuya continue to exist. The game ends with a reunion of Neku, Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme in the Realground.
The Secret Reports are reports about each day written by Sanae Hanekoma, the Producer. They help fill in plot holes, as well as explain more about the world of the game, and the nature of the Reapers’ Game. They are only available upon beating the game, and then completing certain requirements in each specific day (such as defeating certain Noise, collecting a special item, or defeating a boss Noise on a harder difficulty).
Neku is an unsociable fifteen year old who happens to be the main protagonist of the World Ends With You. He is a huge fan of graffiti artist CAT, whose work is all around Shibuya. He is mainly antisocial, claiming that he doesn’t “get people”, and wears headphones (he is referred to by Beat and Mr. H as “‘phones”), which he puts on in the beginning of the game. Neku is one of the most skilled users of psychs in the game, as Shiki notes several times. Despite having a hard time forging lasting relationships, throughout the game he forms great friendships with Shiki, Joshua, Beat, Rhyme, and even Mr. H.
Shiki loves clothing, trends, and anything else fashionable. She is fifteen, but she still carries around a stuffed animal. Mr. Mew is what she attacks the Noise with; she sewed him when she was younger, and it sparked her love for sewing. It was also her first meeting with her best friend Eri, who she is most jealous of. Because of this, her appearance is her entry fee; she takes on Eri’s appearance in the game. Shiki grows close to Neku during the game, becoming his entry fee about halfway in the game and then disappearing for just about the rest.
Yoshiya “Joshua” Kiryu
Joshua is an incredibly intelligent fifteen year old who is obviously much older than he appears to be. He knows much about the Reapers’ Game, and is close friends with Mr. H. He reveals that he can exist in both the Realground and the Underground simultaneously, thus being an illegal Player. He causes Neku quite a bit of trouble because of this, forcing him to play for a third time because of “cheating.” Joshua saves Neku from sure death by jumping in the way of one of Minamimoto’s attacks, but later returns and reveals his identity as the Composer.
Daisukenojo “Beat” Bito
Beat acts tough, but he is actually kindhearted; especially towards his younger sister, Rhyme. He is a hotheaded, quick-tempered fifteen year old who isn’t quite intellectually there. After the first week (and the death of Rhyme), he volunteers to become a Reaper. His motivations are eventually revealed; he became a Reaper to try and revive Rhyme, but only succeeded in turning her into a Noise. He then becomes a Player to assist Neku, and to achieve the goal of defeating the current Composer, thus becoming a Composer himself (and hopefully gaining enough power to resurrect Rhyme).
Raimu “Rhyme” Bito
Rhyme’s age is unsure, but is probably somewhere around twelve to fourteen. Rhyme is a sweet young girl–Beat’s younger sister–although all of her memories of Beat was Beat’s entry fee, so she has no recollection of him. She is very intelligent for her age, and good at calming down and explaining things to Beat. She is erased during the first week. However, since Beat technically wins during the third week, she–and her memories of Beat–are returned, and she is seen alive at the end of the game. One of Mr. H’s reports stated that since she lost the game, she cannot have her entry fee returned, which is her dreams and ambitions.
Uzuki is a recurring Harrier Reaper. She is always hanging around Koki Kariya. Uzuki is seventeen years old. She is quick to anger, arrogant, and powerful. In the beginning of the game, she tried to convince Neku to shoot Shiki (promising that he would “win the Game”), but Mr. H showed up just in time as a rulekeeper. She is very obsessed with her job as a Reaper, always trying for a promotion (but never getting one).
Kariya is another recurring Harrier Reaper. Kariya is a more laid-back Reaper; the counterpart of Uzuki. This nineteen year old is said to be incredibly powerful, but he doesn’t show this great power until a couple weeks into the Game. He takes a much more playful approach to his job as a Reaper, often playing games with Uzuki for “a bowl of ramen.” He is almost always seen with a lollipop, and is called “Lollipop” by Neku and Beat. Several of his statements in the game could indicate that he has been participating in the Game for a long time.
Higashizawa is the Game Master during the first week of the World Ends With You. He refers to Players with references to food, and even taunts with things such as, “Time for a taste test,” or “I’ll mince you!” Notable things about him are the fact that he is the only high ranking Reaper to have visible wings and the fact that he congratulates Neku and Shiki for erasing him. His noise form is Ovis Cantus.
Minamimoto is a math-obsessed Game Master (in fact, the youngest Game Master to ever be in the Game). He uses high-level mathematical equations and references to taunt the Players, and any other opponents. For example, he uses the term “yoctogram,” “hectopascals,” “stupid 000s,” or the first 156 digits of pi. During the second week, he begins creating Taboo Noise (which can attack Reapers as well). Later, when Neku and Joshua manage to erase him, he turns himself into Taboo Noise (but is later defeated easily by the Composer). He is often referred to as “Pi-face” by Neku and Beat. His noise form is Leo Cantus.
Konishi is the Game Master during the third week of the Game. She is crafty and scheming, although at first she appears to be incredibly loyal to the Conductor and the Composer. In reality, she wants to be Composer herself. She is manipulative of her Harrier Reapers, promising them things to trick them into doing certain things. Her Noise form is Tigris Cantus.
Kitaniji is the Conductor, and even a Player himself. The Game Masters (Yodai Higashizawa, Sho Minamimoto, and Mitsuki Konish) all report directly to him. The Composer is absent during the period of three weeks in the game, so he is the supreme authority. Later, it is revealed that Kitaniji is actually a Player, playing for the fate of Shibuya. His Noise forms are Anguis Cantus and Draco Cantus.
Hanekoma, lovingly referred to as Mr. H is a café owner, CAT, and the Producer all in one. He is a rule-keeper of sorts; the Producer watches the Game, and can interact with Players and Reapers. He is also famed graffiti artist, CAT, whom Neku is a large fan of. He owns the coffee shop WildKat, and constantly offers Neku a cup of coffee; for a fee. Mr. H also shows up on Another Day in the Noise form Panthera Cantus.
Jupiter (developer of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, from which The World Ends With You derives several core concepts) assisted the development team at Square Enix that created the original Kingdom Hearts games. Development began about two and a half years before its initial release; during the development of Kingdom Hearts II, and slightly before the release of the Nintendo DS. Square Enix had been pushing the team to create a handheld specific title. The team consisted of people such as Tatsuya Kando (director), Tomohiro Hasegawa (co-director), Takeshi Arakawa (planning director), and Tetsuya Nomura (character design). The team tossed around ideas relating to dual-screen gameplay (as the team had been able to try out the DS during the Touch DS event in 2004), resulting in the conceptualization of the game’s battle system.
The Japanese title, “It’s a Wonderful World”, could not be used overseas due to issues with the copyright, so it was released as The World Ends With You in North America and Europe. The game was announced on September 13, 2006, shown at the Tokyo Game Show 2006, announced for European release on December 5, 2007, and then announced for North American release several days later on December 17, 2007. For the Japanese release of the game, a special Gloss Sliver edition of the DS Lite was created, with the game’s iconic Reaper emblem imprinted on the casing. A manga of the game’s plot was also released by Shiro Amano, which lasted two issues. The manga was released online in North America.
The setting of the World Ends With You is one of the most unique aspects of the game. The entire game takes place in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan. In the game, Shibuya exists on two planes; the Realground (RG) and the Underground (UG). The Realground is where all of real life takes place; normal people wander Shibuya and go about their lives. The Underground is where the Reapers’ Game, a core event in the fiction of the game, takes place.
Several aspects of the game are derived from parts of Shibuya culture and lifestyle. For example, missions for each day are presented via a short text message. All menus are also controlled accessed through Neku’s cellphone. Clothing and fashion trends also play a significant role in the game. The music of the game also complements the Japanese setting; the soundtrack is largely comprised of fast-paced J-pop and upbeat hip hop.
The Reapers’ Game is a week-long game that takes place in the Underground of an area (Shibuya is one of several settings of the Game). Players participate by completing daily missions, generally within given time limits. The Players are recently deceased residents of the Realground; they are unknowingly chosen to participate after their deaths, and cannot be seen by those in the Realground (save certain store clerks). A Player’s entry fee, forcibly taken by the Reapers, is his most prized possession, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Victory in the Game results in a second chance at life (and the return of the entry fee), while failure results in erasure, the loss of the right to exist. In addition to completing the daily tasks, Players must deal with Noise, hostile creatures that can be dispatched by the Reapers as obstacles.
The Reapers’ Game is directed by the eponymous Reapers, a mysterious, multi-tiered organization. Common Support Reapers can deny access to certain areas with walls, forcing Players to fulfill lesser tasks (defeating Noise, finding certain items, etc.) before granting them passage. Stronger Harrier Reapers can create Noise to attack the Players, but are not permitted to attack the Players directly until the Game’s final day. The Conductor is the leader of the Reapers, but before each Game, he appoints a Game Master from the ranks of the Harrier Reapers. This Game Master possesses direct (but temporary) leadership for the duration of the Game, choosing missions and directing his subordinates, while the Conductor generally takes a hands-off approach.
Outranking the Conductor, however, is the Composer, a god-like entity who rules the Underground, setting rules for the Reapers’ Game and judging any surviving Players at its end. The Composer can be supplanted by a Player or Reaper, should he or she be defeated by said person. Angels, powerful denizens of a higher plane, observe the Game’s progression, appointing one of their own as the Producer. This person is neither Player nor Reaper, but is tasked with regulating the Game and preventing rule-breaking. The Producer’s power rivals or surpasses that of the Composer, the only non-angel who is aware of the Producer’s existence and identity.
On August 26, 2012, Square Enix announced an iPhone/iPad port of the game, entitled The World Ends With You: Solo Remix. The iOS version does away with the two screen format of the DS, and tweaks the battle system so that both Neku and his partner are on the same screen. The game feature’s higher-res artwork and re-drawn sprites to take advantage of Apple’s retina display.
In the music department, Solo Remix adds back in a handful of tracks which were Japan-only in the DS version, as well a few new remixes of old tunes. Also included are a Tin-Pin Slammer wireless battle mode, and twitter integration into the thought bubbles of the denizens of Shibuya.
The ‘secret’ ending in the iOS release includes a still image which suggests a possible sequel. It features a new character; a young girl wearing headphones and carrying a stuffed animal which looks like Shiki’s trusted cat/pig companion ‘Mr. Mew’. Behind the girl is the familiar 104 building and a screen which displays the words ‘New 7 Days’.
The World Ends With You Original Soundtrack
- It’s So Wonderful (1:39)
- Twister (1:17)
- Underground (0:49)
- Long Dream (3:12)
- Calling (3:25)
- Despair (0:27)
- Hybrid (3:04)
- Fighting For Freedom (2:06)
- オーパーツ / Ooparts (3:34)
- Forebode (0:28)
- Give Me All Your Love (4:21)
- サムデイ / Someday (3:40)
- Satisfy (4:01)
- Someday (3:39)
- ツイスター / Twister (3:38)
- Let’s Get Together (0:17)
- Slash and Slash / Slam Brothers (1:03)
- Amnesia (0:49)
- Rush Hour (0:34)
- imprinting (1:07)
- オワリハジマリ / Owari-Hajimari (2:17)
- psychedelic (2:24)
- Game Over (2:50)
- Dancer In The Street (0:34)
- ハイブリッド / Hybrid (3:05)
- Detonation (2:33)
- Black Market (0:33)
- Junk Garage (1:27)
- It Is Fashionable (0:34)
- Noisy Noise (2:14)
- Economical Shoppers (0:28)
- Shibuya (2:08)
- Make or Break (4:08)
- Twister-Remix (4:32)
- Secret Track (3:03)
Subarashiki Kono Sekai The World Ends with You (Remix Album)
- Twister -Original ver- (2:12)
- Calling -1960s- (4:02)
- Give Me All Your Love -All my love- (4:17)
- Long Dream -1980s- (3:36)
- Someday -Unplugged- (4:35)
- Make or Break -Black box- (4:09)
- Game Over -Busy Dizzy and Lazy- (2:52)
- Ooparts -Give me a chance- (3:57)
- Hybrid -New born- (4:07)
- Twister -That Power is Yet Unknown- (3:54)
- Déjà vu (4:08)
- Transformation (3:24)
- Three Minutes Clapping (3:14)
- Twister-Gang-Mix (3:33)
- The One Star (3:28)
- OWARI-HAJIMARI (2:26)
- Three Minutes Clapping -Live- (3:20)
- Transformation -Transformed- (3:44)
- Déjà vu -Discoteque- (4:50)